»THE PULSE OF HEALTH CARE
As the landscape in health care is changing rapidly throughout the nation, a new program established in the UTSA College of Business is addressing the value of business in the health community.
The college, under the leadership of Dr. Dana Forgione, the Janey S. Briscoe Endowed Chair in the Business of Health, has launched a new MBA concentration in the Business of Health.
A dominant force in the San Antonio economy, the health care and biosciences industry employs more than 116,000 individuals and represents 14 percent of the San Antonio workforce. And, with the new national Affordable Care Act and the growth of the country’s elderly population, health care will remain a pressing issue in the future.
“As the only UT System business school co-located with a health science component, it seemed opportune to focus in this field,” said Dean Lynda de la Viña. “Coming from Johns Hopkins, I’ve seen the value of partnering business with the medical community.”
Taught by academic professionals as well as practitioners from the health care community, the UTSA program provides a strong academic foundation for a successful career in health care management. The program teaches the practical skills necessary to become a leader in today’s changing health care industry with a defined focus on applied financial and managerial skills.
“This program is critical if you are in the health care industry,” said Russell Fail, ’02, MBA ’04, director of operations at North Central Baptist Hospital in San Antonio. “Courses that focus on these financial aspects can’t be found anywhere else locally. It focuses on the coursework that you need to be successful in health care.”
Students receive general business course work as part of the MBA program as well as specialized health care courses such as Seminar in Medicare Regulation, Legal and Tax Strategies for Healthcare Organizations and Healthcare Management. Additional courses include Accounting for Healthcare Organizations, Legal, Ethical and Social Issues of Healthcare Management, Healthcare Economics, and Organizational and Managerial Issues in Healthcare.
“I was hooked after my first course,” said John Halloran, ’91, a financial analyst with San Antonio’s Warm Springs Rehabilitation and a graduate student in the program. “The class was small, but the students brought in perspectives from a variety of health care industries. We learned from each other and the cross sharing of information. The program applies to my work 100 percent.”
Leading the scholarly team is Forgione, a distinguished academic and pioneer in health care financial management who has published more than 100 articles and papers. His research interests are in comparative international health care financing systems, cost and quality of care, as well as external audits, governance and financial distress of health care organizations. His consulting work has been used twice by Congress in major national health care policy deliberations as well as by the State of Texas in landmark charity care legislation.
“With the focus of the new health care reform bill on financial reform, the health care industry will need individuals who can navigate this financial environment,” said Forgione, who holds a joint appointment with the UT School of Medicine.
In addition to the MBA concentration, a new MBA/MPH dual degree program has been established with the Houston-based University of Texas School of Public Health’s San Antonio regional campus. The collaborative program will prepare students to integrate business and public health skills in their professional lives as managers and administrators.
In addition to general MBA coursework, students receive training in biostatistics, environmental health science, epidemiology and public health policy management.
Students can customize the program to meet their interests and educational goals while completing the degree in three years.
Providing valuable community feedback, a 14-member Business of Health Advisory Board was established this spring to work with faculty on academic program development and to provide partnerships within the industry to enhance professional and career development opportunities for students.
“Our advisory board represents an excellent cross section of the health care industry,” said Forgione. “We have representatives from the public, private, military and academic sectors. They understand our program and want to help us develop it.”
Chairing the board is Richard Priore, senior vice president and chief development officer with the Nix Healthcare System. Bringing more than 18 years of experience in the military and private health care sectors, he is also teaching a new health care course targeted at undergraduates at UTSA.
“I want to be a part of developing future health care leaders,” said Priore, a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. “These are challenging times in our health care system, and we need confident, well qualified and passionate leaders who can serve this industry. We can make UTSA a leading institution in the business of health.”
Now that the program is up and running, Forgione has two main goals. First, expand the student base of the program and, secondly, achieve accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).
“With the military consolidating all their medical branches in San Antonio, this is a tremendous opportunity for student growth in our program,” said Forgione. “And, our board is focused on helping us obtain CAHME accreditation. Accreditation will increase the visibility and recognition of our program and will allow us to build more formal relationships with certain employers. Our goal is to become accredited in two to three years.”